If They Can’t Pay, They Don’t Stay?

According to the ABQ Journal Online, an amendment might soon be passed that frees those who have a “financial inability” to post bail.  The ultimate conclusion sought after with this new amendment would be to allow jurisdictions to trim down housing costs for those awaiting trial.

Last year, New Jersey attempted to move away from the monetary bond system, not knowing that the security in which surety bonds provide would have to be replaced with something else, to ensure that the accused would actually show up for scheduled court appearances.

New Mexico is preparing to do the same, with no plan to replace the security of bail bonds though.  If, and only if, the prosecutor is able to provide convincing evidence that the person is too dangerous to be released among the general public, the preventative detention would be the only way to keep the accused off the streets.

Allowing defendants who “can’t afford to post bail” to go free could cause danger to our communities. Yes, the cost of housing the accused could go down, but is it worth allowing dangerous defendants to go home, awaiting their trials? Even the “non-dangerous” people who are flight risks, increase the possibility of missing their court dates and potentially committing more crime.

If the Supreme Court of New Mexico rules in favor of this amendment, not only will our bail industry be severely impacted, the resulting loss of accountability of those awaiting trial poses an enormous threat to the judicial system and its ability to keep us all safe.

We strongly encourage lawmakers in New Mexico to rethink their plan of leaving the monetary bond system.